Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Zucchini part 2

I have a whole revamping of my etsy store planned. I finally got Gabe to show me how to take pictures with the computer so I can do it myself. My plan is to reassess, relist, and restart with a few new things and a better grounding.

I joined Mark Venema of @art_news on twitter in his 2nd #mailart challenge and I am newly inspired (partly by the deadline) to make more time to create. The #mailart challenge is pretty cool. As far as I understand it, we the artists commit to creating and sending at least 30 postcard/art pieces to the other artists in our group and of course we will receive art postcards from others in return. How cool is that?

Not that I'm not doing any creating. But most of it has been in the kitchen lately. I don't necessarily "love" cooking or baking, but I love the innumerable varieties of yummity goodness that can be made with just a few simple ingredients. And I enjoy sharing so many of them with you. Here are a few things I've played with recently...

Easy Chicken "Pie"-with Zucchini

Combine cooked chicken with a variety of cooked veggies (including zucchini) and 1 can of cream chicken soup and cooked rice. This warms up easily on the stove and is fast when you really don't want to cook.

Zucchini Banana Bread and Zucchini Chocolate Chip Scones

Pinto Bean Soup with Tomatoes and Zucchini

This soup is so easy, just soak and boil beans until soft, then add enough broth or water (or both) to cover about 1/2 inch above the beans. Add 1 can of diced tomatoes and chopped zucchini and simmer until tender. Add chili powder, cumin, and salt to taste. So simple and delicious with a bit of crusty bread on the side.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Etain

My sweet kitty Etain had been sick for months. She went from cuddling on my lap, sleeping by my pillow, and near constant headbutts, to sleeping under a small table in the living room. All. The. Time. So much that now that she's not here I still forget and expect to see her laying there when I sit next to it. She was 15, I think. She was already full grown when I got her and was estimated to be about 1, but I've had vets guess wrong before. She was quiet (usually), sweet (when not sneaking your pastries), and she will be missed.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Adventures with Zucchini...part 1

I'm having an issue with zucchini. Just a small one, and I'm sure I'm not alone, it is the season. The bothersome bit is that it's not even my fault. I am not the greatest gardener and still have much to learn, but I learned years ago that very little zucchini plants are needed to produce many zucchinis. I planted just the right amount for my family of 6, but apparently my friend planted too much for hers because I somehow ended up with a ton from her garden, disguised as a paper grocery bag and stuffed under my chair. So now, despite my own precautions, I have too much zucchini.

I have many, many recipes that I thought I might like to try, but at the moment I have taken it upon myself to put (sneak) zucchini into everything I possible can. You may recall the Zucchini Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes (with Strawberry Chocolate Frosting) from my last post. Today I had 3 zucchini experiences. First I baked fresh Zucchini Chocolate Chip Scones for my brunch. Delicious. Then I had a bunch of bananas that were crying to be bread. Zucchini Banana Bread. Also good.

Zucchini Banana Bread & Zucchini Scones

Then the finale. Dinner was Spicy Peaches and Chicken (with zucchini), also a Food Bank friendly recipe. And here it is for you:
(Now, of course I would much prefer to use fresh peaches and fresh hormone-free chicken for this recipe, and if I had made it 2 years ago I probably would have, so feel free to do so if you are able. Also, when I originally made this recipe, I used apricots instead of peaches, which I prefer, but both are tasty. I will mark those items commonly received from the Food Bank with FB.)

Spicy Chicken with Peaches and Zucchini

1can peaches or apricots, drained & diced -FB
1 or 1 1/2cups zucchini, diced or shredded -FB or sneaky friend's garden
1 or 1 1/2c orange juice -FB or WIC
2-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1-2T apple cider vinegar
2T sugar, brown preferred
1/2-2teas red pepper, I thought 1/2t was kinda lite, but 2 may be much for some
12 ounces of cooked skinless chicken, cubed. -FB 2 (6oz) cans cooked chicken
rice, cooked -FB

Combine all but chicken & rice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10mins. Add chicken and simmer, making sure chicken gets cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serve chicken in sauce over cooked rice. Quinoa or couscous would be lovely too.

I tested this recipe on my children. The first couple times I made it I used apricots and no zucchini. Daughter #2 insists that she doesn't like zucchini, or indeed most anything green, yet she has devoured the last 5 things I've managed to sneak zucchini into with no complaints. It was she who said that she enjoyed this dish for it's mild sweetness. So, there you go.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Let Me Make it Up to You...

I have neglected my blog for a month!? Wow.
I have had a 'busy' month, and by busy, I mean stuff happened and I didn't blog it.

Gabe's mom and stepdad just came for a visit. It's always stressful but usually turns out just fine. (Yes, this visit turned out just fine.) We went to a free day at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science followed by dinner at Cinzetti's, a big Italian buffet restaurant where kids eat free on Monday and Tuesday nights.
Gabe being eaten by a dinosaur. He doesn't seem too bothered by it.

The next day turned out to be their 30th anniversary. If it was us, Gabe and I would have thrown ourselves a big party (We had a formal tea party for #10) but instead we went to see Night at the Museum2 at the $3 theater and ate over salted popcorn.

Daughter #1 has been working up the strength to get to the top, this was her first time. You go!

On Wednesday we hung around until the girls had their wall climbing class, then on Thursday we went to an awesome park along the Big Thompson river. The river had flooded in '76 wiping out an electrical power plant (and a bunch of other stuff, I don't know, I was only 2) and the park was built around the remains. It was the highlight of everyone's week, free and beautiful.

Bits of the power plant are still there. We also saw bits and broken concrete along the river.

The girls hunting for cool river rocks.

And now the moment you've been waiting for... a delightful recipe from one of my baking experiments. If you follow me on twitter you may recall my recent (homemade) Cinnamon Zucchini Chocolate Cupcakes with (homemade) Strawberry Chocolate Frosting.

it'll be a shame to eat them. But YUM on <span class=Twitpic" width="150" height="150">

Well, that's not the recipe I'm giving you. Sorry. Maybe next time. But I am giving something almost as fabulous. Pinto Bean Pie. Oh Yes.

You may recall from previous posts that my family receives help from our local food bank. Things are still tight and work is still slow and I have so many pinto beans its insane. I've been collecting and creating and altering various recipes and plan to compile them one day. I know our family is not the only one having hard times financially and I thought I would share a bit of how we are making due.

This pie is pretty amazing, even my daughter who hate beans loved it. You can't even tell its beans. It is very like a pecan pie with out the pecans. (Although I suppose you could add some if you like.) It has the rich sweetness of the filling in a pecan pie and just enough almonds to give it the nutty crunch it deserves. Give it a try, you'll love it. Especially if you have an over abundance of pinto beans.

For this pie I used a premade pie crust I had, but feel free to make a yummy fresh one.

Pinto Bean Pie

2/3 cup plain sugar
2/3c brown sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3c butter
1 cup pinto beans, cooked and mashed
1/3-1/2c almonds
1 pie crust

preheat oven to 350degrees F (175 degrees C)
cream butter, sugars, and eggs. add beans and nuts, mix well. pour mixture into uncooked pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. The lovely crust on the top is the pie itself.

So simple. So tasty. Let me know how you liked it.